Conversano II Aloha II, June 17, 1989 - October 11, 2015
A tribute to a noble and beloved horse
Jean Kaplan Thornton, a Grand Prix dressage rider, rode into the records books aboard her treasured Lipizzan stallion, Conversano II Aloha II, or "Lou” for short.
Jean took Lou from green broke to Grand Prix. The glorious white stallion had carried her to earn her United States Dressage Federation gold medal. Together they won 25 National Grand Championships, eight National Reserve Championships, 35 Regional Championship Awards and over 100 first-place awards.
"He was one of the most wonderful and generous hearts I've ever known.”
Following his show career Lou retired from the Grand Prix life to a happy place in Virginia -- a place which promised loads of care and attention for Lou, along with trail rides, carrots and endless turnout. At least that was the plan. Unfortunately for Lou, his retirement home was called "Peaceable Farm".
Peaceable Farm - where the sheriff's deputies executed a search warrant on Oct. 19. 2015
Numerous dead horses and cats were discovered along with many live ones. The sheriff's office investigators found more than 100 live horses, in different health stages, Some of the animals are reported to be fine, but others were in bad shape, emaciated and even collapsing.
When she heard the story about the neglect case in Virginia, Jean Thornton was on an airplane within hours. She was looking for Lou. But Lou had vanished.
Jean discovered the heartbreaking clues that Lou had likely been the "Grand Prix stallion" said to have died on Oct. 11, from starvation at Peaceable Farm.
"Of the seven horses they found dead, three of them were locked in their stalls and had eaten the walls. Four more had to be euthanized immediately because they couldn't even stand up. It was a tragic ending to a most noble horse. Rest in peace my beloved gentleman.”
Animal rescue groups from around the region are trying to nurse back to health dozens of horses taken from "Peaceable Farm"
Funds from your purchase of prints, cards and other items will be donated to the rescue groups re-habbing those horses who survived.
Condensed from info found at
How such a beautiful animal ended up with such a gruesome fate
Written by Jean Kaplan Thornton
It is never any easy decision to sell a horse. I have bred and sold dozens of horses and I have purchased, trained and sold many others. I am personally breeding currently to produce a four-in-hand team of matching dark golden palomino warmbloods with no socks between 15.2 hands and 16.2 hands for combined driving. To drive four horses together requires that they all match. It is a very difficult task especially when you are trying to achieve a very rare phenotype. I have been working on this goal now for 12 years. Since it has been such a difficult task, I have had to focus specifically on what I am trying to achieve. If a horse is born that is not going to match, it goes up for sale immediately. This is much easier for me than horses that I ride for years only to come to the realization that I am no longer the perfect home for them. I have had many such horses in my life.
My first little pony live till she was 36. I sold her when she was 24. I outgrew her and she went on to be another little girl's pride and joy teaching her the ins and outs of horse ownership. I recently received this message from her. "I had Goldie for alot of years until she passed away. She is buried in the pasture at my parents house where she lived. She was a awesome horse. I loved her so much. What a gentle soul. I had her in parades and 4H."
Another horse I had for a while was a beautiful Dutch mare named Inca by Iron Spring's Sebastian . She was a real babysitter. Her owner had died of cancer but in her last months, Inca allowed her to just sit on her and hang out without ever offering any resistance to her weak mother. I found the perfect home for her and later received this message from her owner in Canada, "Thought I would bring you the great news that Inca had a fantastic year this year and is now retiring. We showed third level this year and that great mare racked up the following: Caledon Silver June - reserve champion Caledon Silver July - champion Blue Star Gold - reserve champion Caledon Year End Awards - champion Silver Championships - reserve champion Silver Ontario reserve champion Silver Year end awards - champion. She is a wonderful mare and friend...to think that started me at the lowest of all spots ( recently widowed and recovering from cancer and a broken femur) to bring me to this star studded year. Please pass along to her " babies" that they have huge footprints to fill but if they have half the heart that their mum does, the will be superstars. Thank you very much for the honour of having this exceptional mare."
I have dozens of such messages from people who have bought horses from me from as far away as New Zealand. "Hi Jean. I cannot tell you enough how much we love this filly. She hears my voice, and screams...so darn cute." Suzanne Hallock Hehn (New owner of Bashara.)
"I have to tell you just how sweet Begonia really is. For a novice such as myself, she has really been such a joy to handle. She’s responsive when I call her and she loves being pampered! My husband has really taken to her and he even goes out in the evenings with me to groom and walk her around her new farm! Nan’s filly shares Begonia’s pasture and they’ve cozied-up nicely! I’m really looking forward to having a productive future with Begonia, .... Begonia truly is a dream! Thanks!" Tammy Smith (New owner of Begonia aka. Somyre Reign.
"Thank you so much for everything. She... was such a good girl! She's absolutely gorgeous and so well behaved! ... what an amazing filly...... I'm so blown away as is everyone else here, just with how well behaved she is-thanks to you guys, I'm over the moon... Her final destination is still kauai... Cheers, Gene" (new owner of Bimini.) this is just a tiny sample of the messages I receive every week from owners all over the world.
Being a part of the chain of events that allows people to realize their lifelong dreams is one of my life's greatest pleasures. People have to sell horses for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it turns out that the horse is much more difficult than the owner expected. Other times it may turn out that the owner realizes that the effort, time and money required is much greater than they had originally thought. There are many reasons I believe why it is better to sell your horse then to just let it sit in a pasture. Horses deserve many hours of attention every week. I made such a difficult decision with my long time soulmate and beloved Lipizzan Stallion, Conversano II Aloha II. I had purchased "Lou" as a three-year-old. I gave him his barn name after King Louis XIV of France aka The Sun King who was the longest reigning monarch of any major European country and worked his entire life to abolish feudalism. I trained Lou to Grand Prix, earned my USDF Gold Medal with him, jumped him, taught him to drive when he was 20 and competed with him in combined driving. We gave a Grand Prix musical freestyle sidesaddle exhibition on him in front of 6000 people. Together we earned 25 National Grand Championships, 8 National Reserve Championships, 35 Regional Championship awards and over 100 first-place awards. I also trained him to do the camel stretch, the Spanish walk and to lie down.
In the last three years that I owned him, I tried to find small, young, old or beginner riders to learn from him. Try as I might, I was only able to find someone to ride him about once every two weeks. He just needed someone to ride him gently every day. That's what he wanted. I could tell. As a stallion he had to be in a field alone and I felt sorry for him without having more of a job or company. In his aged condition, I felt that I was too big and strong of a rider for him and I don't really enjoy trail riding every day. My passion is to improve horses that no one else can ride or start horses from scratch that are very difficult.
I finally found a small person who told me all about her lifelong experience with various different disciplines of horses. Although she was experienced, she had not yet mastered dressage and wanted to learn from a schoolmaster. His new owner was Anne Goland aka Shumate aka Williams aka Green. She didn't tell me anything about owning a rescue organization. She only told me she had a couple of other horses. Little did I know that she would eventually come to on over 200 horses. She told me that she was taking him to the well respected dressage training Farm of Patti Pierucci and that is indeed what she did.
I recently received this message from one of the working students at that barn, "You don't know me but I feel incredibly compelled to reach out to you. I used to be a working student for Pati Pierucci in Virginia and knew Aloha (Lou) very well when he was in our care there. I know you have spoken with Pati already, but we are all just as heartbroken, shocked, and devastated with this news as anyone can me. Trying to wrap our brain around the depth of carelessness and indifference to suffering is an impossible task. But what I wish to say to you is this; in the time he spent with us around 2012-2013, he was so loved. My God, he was loved. My good friend Carmen and I knew from the moment he came to us that he was an old soul whose purpose on this earth was different from the rest. You could feel it. He brought us so much joy. I remember the first time we figured out how to make him Spanish walk we squealed with joy and his eyes lit up and he wouldn't stop. We just laughed and laughed. On particularly rough days I remember taking him on long, meditative trail rides and feeling the peacefulness of his spirit rush through me with every step, as if to say, "life is going to be okay." But most of all, no matter what was going on in my life, no matter how busy or stressed or overwhelmed with the world I felt, whenever I passed him in his stall he always made me stop and say thank you. That was his greatest gift to me. He made me stop and say thank you. I am devastated at the ending of his life but am so grateful for his life. He was one in a million. I know that he continues his work from beyond, as his strength and light and wisdom and peace continue to makes waves in this world. Peace to you, Andy."
After Patti moved to Texas, Lou was taken to a farm whose owners also work for the very well known and respected Hilton Farm. I have seen pictures of him at this farm and he looks as though he was well cared for until he was moved in June 2015 to Anne Goland's own Peaceable Farm. I had always received regular messages fro Anne about the great care he was receiving and how well he was doing. I even received a message just two weeks before his suspected death.
On October 20 I got a message from an employee of the website ratemyhorsepro.com at 9 o'clock at night informing me that Anne Goland had been found to have over 100 starving horses on her property. I was on a plane at 7 o'clock in the morning on October 21 to go find my beloved Lou. A lot of information came in that day while I was in route to Virginia. I learned she had another farm in Maryland and that my stallion could possibly be there. I almost diverted myself but ultimately felt it was best to speak with her in person and if necessary I could always drive from Richmond up to Maryland. I got messages with pertinent information from over 70 people I had never met before. This did not include the dozens of condolences I got from people I already knew. It was and still is overwhelming. I learned that 85 horses were either surrendered or seized. Seven horses were dead when they arrived at the farm. Three of them were still locked in their stalls after having eaten the walls. Nine more horses had to be euthanized because they couldn't stand or were seized and could not be brought around. There were over 40 dead animals total. At least 12 dead animals were in her house. The police have reported that she had over one dozen storage units and a mutual acquaintance tells me that she was ordering merchandise off eBay so fast she didn't even have time to open the boxes
When I finally arrived that afternoon, she had just left the property to go get something to eat. The sheriff allowed me to look at the remaining horses to make sure that he wasn't one of them and then she asked me to leave the property. I heard from one of the rescuers that Anne had told him that Lou was on a neighboring farm and he was fine so I immediately delayed my flight home, booked a room and proceeded to call every farm in Somerset County asking if they had any knowledge of my stallion.
After that I went back to the farm. I hoped that once all of the commotion settled down she would be willing to talk to me. By the time I got to the farm it was dark and I didn't see anyone around. I could only hear the sound of a number of dogs barking in a kennel. The authorities had condemned her home so it was completely dark. I was told she was living in her car but I didn't have the courage to go up to her car in the dark.
Peaceable farm is well off the beaten track and due to the rolling hills, it is even hidden from the immediate neighbor. One of her neighbors told me that her farm is 500 acres. You can't see her house from the road and you certainly can't see all of the horses in the fields. When you go there you can see how she was able to hide all of these starving animals. The nearest hotel was a half hour away from her farm and the next morning I had to drive another half an hour farther away just to get photo copies made.
On my way back to her farm the next morning I posted flyers on every vertical surface I could find offering a $1000 reward for information leading to the location of my soulmate. When I arrived at her farm that morning I sat in her driveway for a while just allowing her to become aware that I was there. I saw her move from her trailer to her car and I got out of my car walking a very large circle so she could see me without me approaching directly towards her. I didn't recognize her at all from her Facebook profile picture which made her look tall and thin. This woman could only be described as short and fat. One of her employers drove up and had a word with her. I spoke with him and asked him if that was Anne and he said he didn't know but that she had called the cops on me. I knew then that the woman I was seeing in the distance was indeed Anne. I approached slowly and she went and hid inside her trailer. I called out to her through the window of the trailer and told her that I only wanted to help her and I wasn't mad at her or there to judge her. This inspired her to come out and tell me that I should've called her which of course I already had or messaged her which I also had done to no avail. She was covered and hay and looked very scared. She said she had death threats on her life. She kept looking behind her back and jumping from noises I couldn't hear. She reassured me that Lou was still alive and well on a neighboring farm but that she didn't want to give me the location and she just needed space and time to think. She asked me to leave. I begged her to allow me to see Lou before I returned to Florida. She wouldn't give me the location. She said she had my phone number and I told her if she called me I would come within 24 hours. I had already told her a long time ago and I told her again that I would always be willing to immediately take over Lou's expenses and/or buy him back and/or pay for his shipping to come retire on my farm.
That afternoon I got this message from Elena Collins, "Hi Jean, I am so incredibly sorry to hear about your stallion. The situation at peaceable farm is horrific. I came in contact with the owner Anne last week as she was picking up one of my friends horses that she had purchased. We obviously had no idea of the situation at her farm. She was late picking up the horse and finally told us that it was because her beloved GP stallion had passed away that morning. This was October 11th. I don't know if she had any other stallions but it sounds like it could have been your guy. I am so sorry. This is absolutely heartbreaking. I am sending my love your way ~"
That report has now been confirmed for me by the sheriffs department after reading messages off of her confiscated phone however they have not yet found his body. They have searched her farm but have found no evidence of a recent grave. I don't know what happened to the remains of my starved horse but I'm sure it was not befitting of such a magnificent gentleman.
Even though she only had 100 starving horses at the time of the current confiscation, I have been told by people close to her that she had up to 200 horses a year ago and that people have been negotiating the surrender of horses for the entire past year. They described it as hostage negotiation and I understand now what they are talking about after I said whatever I had to say in order to find information about my horse. I'm sure that none of these 200 people would have sold her their horses had they known that she had previously been banned from owning horses in Maryland only to run to Virginia. I am also told that she also got in trouble in Pennsylvania before she came to Maryland.
The problem is that there is no national database for people who have been convicted of animal cruelty. Certain states are just starting now to have statewide databases for these people. That is a good start but it doesn't protect people in one state from being conned by people in another state. Because of this tragedy, I am now on a mission to see to it that a national database is started that the general public can access which details the names and crimes of people who have been convicted of animal cruelty and animal neglect. I have already spoken with people who have created such a database for people who have been convicted of soring Tennessee Walkers and I now realize that this goal is well within my reach. It is just a matter of researching various websites which publish these criminals and then putting it all together in one accessible location.
My other goal which will be considerably more difficult and time-consuming however equally as important in my mind is to have a federal law which mandates that any person who is banned from owning animals in one state should be automatically banned from owning animals in all states. I really think it is wrong to allow people to run from state to state and reoffend against innocent animals over and over again.
I have two aunts who have initiated bills and seen them through to becoming law. I have great role models and wonderful people giving me advice but I am open to all advice and suggestions regarding these endeavors. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org once I have the bill written, I will need many signatures in order to get the bill to move forward. I would appreciate people who are interested in signing this bill to send me their addresses so when it is written I can forward it to you for your signature. I am also taking donations which will be used exclusively towards achieving this goal. You can donate to this cause at https://www.gofundme.com/CIIAIIAct
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